Finding the Art in Everything

10 September, 2010

Desert Island Books

"If you were stranded on a desert island, what is the one (fill in the blank) you'd want to have with you?"

It's annoying when people say "The
Bible", because we never know if they mean it.

When getting ready to move, this question doesn't exactly count as packing strategy. But the process of selection and rejection is an interesting one. People wouldn't ask about desert islands if what is brought or left wasn't somehow telling.

I don't have to answer "The Bible", because I am moving in with a Pastor. Chances are, there is a bible or two around that house.

I did however take my two beautiful bookshelves and consolidate the travel ones to a single milk crate. If it didn't fit in the crate, it didn't go. Forecasting what I'd need and what I wouldn't was tough. I mostly got it write, with a few exceptions.

The top-five books I'm glad I brought:

1. Discovering Marin, A Historical Tour of Cities and Towns, by Louise Teather.

Every time I go to a place in Marin County, I look up the history of where I went. The book had a 1973 copyright, so it's good for original history, but that's a pretty big gap and a lot has changed in Marin since the 1970's. A friend bought it for me at a book fair. I love the historical information more than I care that this is one of the most boring books I have ever read.

2. Jesus Among Other Gods, by Ravi Zacharias. The more I read this, the more I see it as a manual to presenting the Gospel to the heart and mind of Marin County.

3. Holy the Firm, by Annie Dillard. One of my favorite books of all time, re-reading it comforts me. It is very atmospheric as I'm on the rugged, North-Pacific Coast. It talks about both God and Christian community as she finds them revealed in nature-- and God, Church, and Natural Beauty are intense parts of my experience here.

4. Lonely Planet's San Francisco City Guide. I have been a Lonely Planet fan for a while, but between this book and my GPS, I am fearless. I carry it around with me. A few times I have been in The City with some extra time, so I look in the book to see what else is in my neighborhood, plug it into the GPS, and off I go! Neither device, however, prepares me for the parking nightmare I'll find when I arrive. (On Parking: It seems the City of San Francisco got special help with it. They first employed petulant Olympian deities to grant or revoke them from drivers in an arbitrary way, then they reached out to the Italian mafia to fix the extortionist rates and enforce the meters.)

5. The Moon and Sixpence, by Somerset Maugham. Also, on a whim, I threw the Penguin Classics Letters of Vincent Van Gogh in the crate. The Moon and Sixpence is Maugham's fictional, literary tribute to Paul Gauguin. As I'm reading it, I'm finding the veil of fiction to be a pretty transparent one. This turned out to be my most precise set of predictions. While the Musee D'Orsay in Paris closes down for 9 months, my city is hosting some of it's masterpieces. San Francisco is the only one to get the works, and the exhibit is called

Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay

I have seen these pieces before, but now I have the books to read and prepare so I can actually appreciate what I see when I do!

The milk crate wasn't a total victory, however. There are a few things I am sorely missing.

The top-five books I wish I'd brought:

1. Orthodoxy: The Annotated Edition - Paperback (Aug. 1, 2002) by G. K. Chesterton and Craig M. Kibler

3. Spirit Rebellious, by Kahlil Gibran--a vintage volume about the strife in Lebanon, on revolution and Society.

4. Everyman's Poems by William Cowper. I had a vintage copy from the 1930's that was the best collection of his work I have seen, especially with some rarely-printed favorites. I found myself trying to recall some of his lines the other day with no way to look them up.

5. The Maytrees: A Novel by Annie Dillard. I have time to read and I left my unread copy of this back in Florida. I keep seeing it featured everywhere here.

For the brief time I lived in that apartment, I sure did love having all of my books around me.

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